Monica says “it’s people like Brett who will get a lot of votes, and not people like Russell”

The second person eliminated on Survivor Samoa Thursday was Monica Padilla, and she was pretty much responsible bringing some entertainment to the somewhat dull two half-hour episodes. It was her last-ditch effort and confrontation with Russell that prompted him to freak out a little and put on the immunity necklace at Tribal Council.

I talked to Monica this morning and asked her about threatening Russell to base her jury vote on need, and although it seemed like a strategy to get him to keep her around, she said it wasn’t just a threat: “It definitely is one of the things I do consider.” She said, “I can’t go into giving someone a million dollars based on one aspect of the game.” She wants to “realize that I gave some a million dollars and they deserved it” and to be “comfortable with myself,” that person cannot be “vindictive and evil.” She said that, “in the game of the Survivor, a lie here or there is crucial to some people’s games” but said she’ll ask, “did you do all of these things because you had to in that moment, or just for the sake of doing it because you’re evil?”

When we talked about Brett, she seemed to reveal the jury’s mentality: “It’s people like Brett who will get a lot of votes, and not people like Russell, who have made a lot of enemies,” she said. Despite the fact that Brett has been nearly invisible to us, Monica said, “I think Brett played a great game. He went in and didn’t form any obvious alliances,” but instead, “he made a lot of great friends and a lot of great alliances” and thus “didn’t have to burn anyone too quickly.”

As to Russell’s comment that Monica was a “little bitch,” she said the people she watched the episode with were “cracking up,” and said “he’s not the first person that called me a bitch, and he’s not going to be the last,” but also said, “it shows a lot of his character. I don’t see that he has a very strong fondness for women, and I don’t think he shows them a lot of respect.”

The best exchange during Tribal Council came when Russell said that if Monica had “played hard this entire game, she would be the one in charge right now,” to which Monica awesomely replied, “or I could be going home earlier.” It was a hint that Russell’s cockiness might be about to backfire. “I’ve been playing hard this entire game and I’m still here,” Russell replied, and Monica reminded him that was “because of idols,” which Russell said counted as playing.

Monica told me, “I was playing that hard from day one,” although she said that she “played more of a subtle game at first.” She was always “planning for the possibility of a demise” on Galu’s part, so “even though we were winning, I continued to talk strategy.” Monica also said she wished the editors would have included more of “how I fought for myself when Yasmin was voted out,” because they “never actually showed my strategy.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.